February 20, 2002
UN OIP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IN IRAQI KURDISTAN
Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme
(OIP), visited Iraqi Kurdistan to meet with Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG) officials and tour the region to see the situation
on the ground for himself. During his tour, he saw some of the
program achievements as well as areas requiring urgent remedy,
such as public transportation and IDP housing.
Meetings were held in Erbil from January 25 - 29 with KRG Prime
Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Deputy Prime Minister Sami Abdul
Rahman, and members of the KRG High Committee for SCR-986 along
with heads of UN Agencies. He also met with KDP President Masoud
Barzani. Before coming to Erbil, he met with the Governor of
Duhok and others.
|Benon Savan, OIP
Executive Director, with Tun Myat, UN Humanitarian Coordinator
for Iraq, visit IDPs near Ain Kawa
Discussions focused on ways to improve project implementation.
Particular concern was expressed about the lack of progress
in hospital construction and in the health sector in general
by the KRG and Mr. Sevan.
The subject of 212 outstanding visa applications held up in
Baghdad for experts needed in Kurdistan was also raised. Until
these experts come, several projects are delayed and others
have come to a standstill.
Mr. Sevan visited the hospital in Amedia and the 29 MW power
station in Duhok. In Erbil, he toured the public transportation
terminal, renovated Teaching Hospital, ongoing sewerage project,
Erbil Park, and IDPs living in an old military building near
During a tour of Banislawa, he met IDPs displaced from Kirkuk
who are currently housed in tents. Families displaced by the
Government of Iraq in its Arabization campaign are forced to
leave their homes and are deported to Kurdistan. Some of the
IDPs spoke to Mr. Sevan and gave him a statement about their
After, he went to Kesnazan to see the construction site for
900 apartments for IDP families. Arrangements were made for
him to travel to the Ifraz River, site of a planned large-scale
water treatment and pumping station project for the city of
Erbil and a major bridge necessary for the completion of the
new shorter route from Erbil to Duhok.
The KRG looks forward to the resolution of several difficult
problems and speedier project implementation as a result of
2002 BUDGET APPROVED
Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani presented the 2002 Budget
on December 31, 2001, for the approval of the members of the
Kurdistan National Assembly. After debate and discussion, the
2.5 billion I.D. budget was approved.
About 30 per cent of this year's budget will be spent on the
health and education sectors. In the health sector, the budge
covers expenses for 243 hospitals and health clinics, 21 institutions,
and over 3,500 healthcare professionals.
The budget for education will pay for two universities, five
technical institutes, and about 2,000 primary, intermediate,
and secondary schools, and about 23,000 teachers.
Increased allocations are also required for the 85 new municipalities
created after the municipal elections in the spring of 2001.
ROAD TO BORDER AT HAJI OMERAN IMPROVED
The road from Erbil to Haji Omeran has become an important
transportation route over the past few years with steadily increasing
commercial vehicular traffic carrying goods to and from Iran.
Many Iranian businesses are actively pursuing project contracts
under the SCR-986 program and through direct arrangements with
the KRG and private companies. Road improvements make good business
Private citizens are also starting to make more trips to Iran
to visit friends and relatives. Tens of thousands of people
have returned to Iraqi Kurdistan from Iran during the past ten
years and after having spent ten to twenty years or more there.
Over the years, these people made many friendships that they
MOWAH construction team paving the new
road to the border
The value of the commercial traffic crossing the border along
with steadily improving relations with the government of Iran
made it an attractive project for the KRG. 2,650,000 I.D. were
allocated to make improvements and expand the road to four lanes
from the town of Haji Omeran to the Iranian border.
The Ministry of Works and Housing designed the road and supervised
the construction. Attention was paid to grading the road, applying
layers of sub-base and building culverts to divert the water
Haji Omeran is famous for its cold weather with heavy snowfalls.
A local spring is also a favourite spot for families to picnic
and its excellent water is renowned throughout the whole region.
KURDISTAN MOUNTAINS WHITE AGAIN
This year marks the UN Year of the Mountain and many countries
are busy celebrating their famous mountain ranges and planning
projects to preserve mountain ecologies.
Kurdistan is also famous for its many mountain ranges and they
form a strong part of the Kurdish identity.
During the past three years, the region has witnessed a severe
drought with significant decreases in the amount of rain and
snowfall that has caused springs and rivers to dry up. This
winter, the snow returned and you can see the ranges capped
in white. Other areas have received heavy rainfall and some
springs have come to life again.
The snowfall, while a welcome sight, creates difficulties for
some mountain communities as they find themselves cut off from
other towns and cities. It has been a difficult year for the
Ministry of Reconstruction and Development staff responsible
for snow clearing the more remote areas of the region.
MORAD work crews clearing the snow in
Teams have been deployed throughout the Erbil and Duhok Governorates
where they will stay until spring comes and the snow stops blocking
he roads. Their jobs are made more difficult by the shortage
and age of machinery they have available for snow removal. Despite
the problems, roads are kept open for the most part and people
can get out of their communities for supplies or to reach medical
care and access other public services.
Almost everyone is happy to see the snow again. People are
out having fun it and children love to play in it. Snowmen can
be found by the roads and you can even see adults having snowball
These beautiful mountains will probably become a tourist attraction
in the future for sightseers, skiers and snowboarders. In the
past, they were a popular summer destination throughout the
Middle East and they still are for the people living in the
KANI BARDAREE WATER PROJECT
Mergasor District, like most areas in Iraqi Kurdistan, has
been experiencing a severe drought for the past three years.
It has caused a great deal of hardship for the thousands of
people living in villages scattered around the district. Many
springs and wells have dried up leaving people without water
for drinking, irrigating, or watering animals.
As a stopgap measure, water is being delivered to the villages
by tankers. This is a very expensive and inefficient way to
supply water; however, there has been no choice in the matter.
In the meantime, local people and staff from the Ministry of
Reconstruction and Development (MORAD) have been searching for
an alternative water supply in a sufficient quantity to be able
to maintain the local population for many years.
Site of the Kani Bandaree water project
The spring at Kani Bardaree was found and proposed as a suitable
location for a water project. After researching the location,
measuring quantity and testing water quality, it was recommended
for development. It is a strong spring and even at its lowest
levels has a sufficient water flow.
MORAD prepared a proposal for funding from the SCR-986 Oil-for-Food
program to develop this water project. It will go ahead at the
The project, using the latest technology, will have a water
intake that will send the water to a collection tank where it
will be treated and filtered prior to being pumped to the main
storage tank from which it will be distributed by gravity to
19 villages. About 6,300 people are expected to benefit from
the project when it is completed.
If you take a look at the site of the new Bastora Bridge that
is under construction, it is hard to imagine why such a large
structure is needed. There is just a small stream flowing under
it in a dry, rocky area. But this can change very rapidly, especially
in a year with high precipitation and heavy snowfalls. In 1993,
a flash flood hit and washed out the old structure, which was
replaced by a small two-lane bridge currently trying to serve
the needs of one of the most heavily travelled roads in Iraqi
In mountainous areas, bridges are very important, connecting
sections of roads across river and streams and over valleys.
At Bastora, careful planning was needed to ensure that the new
bridge structure can withstand heavy flooding situations that
could happen in any year.
Bastora Bridge construction
The Ministry of Works and Housing (MOWAH) has carried out 15
bridge construction projects at a cost of 5.5 million I.D. from
KRG funds as well as numerous repair projects in the past few
years. The Bastora Bridge is their most recent project funded
with 12.5 million I.D. from KRG.
MOWAH staff have been actively involved in the project right
from the design stage and are supervising the company awarded
the contract to build it. When it is complete, the concrete
bridge will span the 96-meter riverbed and connect two sections
of the new four-lane road from Erbil to Salahaddin. It will
be able to take a 100-ton load to meet the heaviest needs of
traffic on the road.
Two stages of the road construction project are already complete.
The third stage, from the bridge to just below Salahaddin is
ongoing at the same time as the work on the bridge, which is
more than half done.
KHALEEL AQAB (EAGLE) CIRCUS ON TOUR IN
For the first time, a circus has come to Iraqi Kurdistan. The
red and white striped tent, pitched next to the Franso Hariri
Stadium, has been attracting lots of attention.
Most nights, from 7:30 to 10:30, the tent is packed with about
1,000 people, mostly families, who watch the show and enjoy
it so much they are even coming back to see it more than once.
The circus is directed by an Iranian, but it has been based
in Italy since 1982. There are 30 performers-half from Iran,
3 from Russian, 6 from Armenia, 5 from Turkmenistan, and 1 from
Kyrgyzstan. With the circus, they have been to many countries,
including Italy, France, Spain, Germany, England, Greece, Portugal,
Turkey, and Iran. This is their first trip to the region.
Animals, like horses, monkeys, lions, and bears, are also used
in the performances. Four clowns keep the audience laughing
throughout the evening. They also brought their own three-member
band with them.
Performer during his act at the circus
While they are here, they will be spending two months in Erbil.
They are discussing plans to take the circus to Duhok and Sulaimaniyah.
Considering that over 30,000 tickets have been sold so far in
Erbil, it seems likely that they will continue in other places
in Iraqi Kurdistan.
It is really good to see this type of program being enjoyed
by everyone. There is generally a lack of family-oriented entertainment
available in the region, so this is a welcome event. It should
encourage other performing artists to consider traveling to
Kurdistan to put on shows in the future.
You can see them up until March 2 in Erbil. Get your tickets
CHILDREN'S REHABILITATION CLINIC
The Children's Rehabilitation Clinic (CRC) in Duhok was established
about three and a half years ago under the direction of ACORN,
an international NGO operating in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1993.
The CRC, funded by DFID, is operated in cooperation with the
Duhok Department of Health (DOH), is located in the Azadi Hospital.
They will move into their new clinic when construction is completed.
The CRC will be turned over to the DOH when everything is in
place for the Clinic to be successful without assistance from
Its role is to provide hands-on physiotherapy treatment fro
children, train child physiotherapists, and develop satellite
clinics in already established health centers run by the Department
of Health. From the satellite clinics, home visits are arranged
for physiotherapists to ensure parents are following treatment
Child receiving treatment at the Children's
Some of the most common conditions being treated at the CRC
are spina bifida, cerebral palsy, hip displacement, clubfoot,
and Down's Syndrome. Arrangements are made for children requiring
surgical treatment. Those who need special shoes, braces or
casts, can be treated on site by the orthotics technicians at
ACORN is also active in raising awareness in the community
about children's disabilities, their causes, and ways to prevent